Sunday, June 1, 2014

Film Review: A Public Ransom

Movies have this distinct problem that the need to be visual. Even if your entire film takes place in one large hall, and all buildings are drawn out on the floor, you have to show all of this. Talking about a movie isn’t the same as creating it, and here lies the crucial problem with A Public Ransom.

If you turn off the video part of this film, and just listen to the audio track, you would probably get the same experience as anyone who watched it. It seems to me that it was conceptualized without making the distinction between a radio drama and a motion picture. Here, there is no motion, except in the narrative sense. Its actors stand around and seem as if awkwardly positioned laptop cameras filmed them.

And, of course, they talk. In A Public Ransom, the talking doesn’t end, and serves the purpose of transmitting information in and continues stream, interrupted on several occasions by music tracks. The entirety of the film is in dialogs, and they don’t hold up.

The story is set around Steven, a writer, who sees a poster depicting a missing child and a telephone number. He meets up with a character named Bryan, who claims that he kidnapped the kid, and will release its captor if Steven produces 2000 dollars.

Steven and his face represent around 60% of shots in the film. He is played by Carlyle Edwards, who did his best to memorize miles and miles of lines for his character, but failed absolutely in presenting him as any kind of believable being. He is constantly stiff and any emotion feels forced to a point where it is almost unpleasant to watch. Like the rest of the film, Edwards colored Steven mostly in gray, and even managed to miss a lot of spots. His fellow actors succeed in equal measure.

Pablo D'Stair, who directed the film, made a perfect example what happens when you ignore the idea that you should always try to show, and not tell. Instead, amateur actors only tell things to each other, unwilling or unable to do anything more, while the rest of the film desperately needs them to do anything with those torrents of words, and somehow resonate with any human emotion. The atmosphere of the film is non-existent.

A Public Ransom looks like a film where most of the energy and enthusiasm went into writing, and the rest was expected to click into place by itself. It most definitely didn’t.